Retirement in Ireland
by Hilary Shannon
is a well known fact that if you ask an Irish man or woman
where they are from, they will tell you where they were
born! The fact that they haven't lived in that place for
most of their lives, indeed the fact that they haven't lived
in Ireland for most of their lives is, to them, irrelevant.
They seem to have mastered the art of "living in two places
at once" as the Irish psychologist Maureen Gaffney says.
And it was the fervent wish of every Irish emigrant to return
to live in Ireland.
ever increasing number of people are opting to spend their
retirement in Ireland, and not all of them have any family
connections here. They may give many reasons for this -
the relaxed pace of life in many parts of this country (particularly
away from the cities and large towns), the low crime rate
in the more rural areas, and the fact that it is cheaper
to live in Ireland with a fixed income for many of them.
are valid and prudent considerations when contemplating
a move to retire to Ireland, but there are other important
considerations which must be taken into account as well.
Most people who work outside the home have up to 80% of
their acquaintances there and on retirement these will disappear
- a fact that may cause us great joy! The other 20% are
family, close friends and the people we interact with in
our social life.
you move permanently, ask yourself the following questions:-
How often will you see family again?
Will you miss too many of the great family occasions?
Will your grandchildren have children of their own by the
time you return or meet them again?
How good are you at making friends? We Irish have a reputation
for being friendly, but there's a big difference in being
friendly and making friends.
Do you know anyone in Ireland - other than relatives?
you hesitate about the answers to any of these questions,
you must be careful about making a permanent move. TRY IT
OUT FOR SIX MONTHS FIRST. Then if everything is working
out, make the move permanent; if not, think again. Many
people who transfer to Ireland do so for the better months
- April to October - and change to warmer climates for winter
are some important considerations you have to take account
of in making your decision:
As far as the Irish government is concerned, you can hold
dual citizenship if you wish. However, your own government
may take a different view so it is vital that you check
with them before you do anything to start the process of
taking out Irish Citizenship. You would not want to lose
your own citizenship in the process.
are the benefits of taking out Irish Citizenship?
You can vote in all Irish elections and Referenda, i.e.
Presidential elections, various referenda, elections to
the Dail - the Irish parliament - to the European parliament
and in local government elections.
You have all the privileges enshrined in the Constitution
and all the duties of citizens listed there and in law.
You can have virtually unrestricted travel to any part of
the world - the Irish government places no obstacles in
the travel plans of its citizens so much so that you will
probably bump into an Irish person in the most unlikely
No one likes paying taxes, but just like the weather they
are always with us. Details of the treatment of people residing
in Ireland and their tax liability are covered in "Leaflet
RES 1" from the Revenue Commissioners, at +353 1 8780100.
following conditions apply to you if you set up residence
permanently in Ireland:
All income arising from sources in Ireland except for certain
exempt government stocks is liable to Irish income tax:
No part of a visitor's income from sources outside Ireland
is subject to income tax unless that person is deemed to
be resident in Ireland, i.e. they spend 183 days
in the State in a tax year or 280 days in the State, combining
the number of days in the current tax year and the preceding
tax year. The tax year starts on 6th April each year (but
it is changing to run with the Calendar year in 2002; i.e.
it will start on 1st January from 2002).
You would do well to consult an accountant or a lawyer versed
in tax law if you feel you might have problems with this.
This would be particularly important in the area of inheritance
Ireland operates a double taxation agreement with many countries
and you will receive a tax credit on the tax paid in your
country of origin when calculating your tax liability in
Ireland. You should have proof of the tax deducted from
your country of origin.
Most of us will live on pensions of one sort or another
when we reach retirement age. Most countries allow their
citizens to transfer their pensions to where they are living.
Company pensions can normally be paid into a bank
and transferred to you without any trouble.
Social Security pensions from the USA will suffer
a 15% withholding tax from the IRS, but can be paid outside
the USA. Just give three to six months' notice of your intention
If you are entitled to a Social Security pension from Australia,
you can have it paid in Ireland. The pensions are distributed
from England to addresses all over Europe and are posted
on a monthly basis.
you are entitled to a pension from Veterans Affairs it must
be paid into an Australian bank first, and then transferred.
PAYE ("Pay As You Earn tax") will be deducted at source
on all Australian Pensions.
Ireland has reciprocal agreements with several countries
including Austria, Canada, Australia and the United States.
These agreements protect the pension entitlements of Irish
people who go to work in these countries and they protect
people from those countries who work in Ireland. They cover
pensions only, i.e., Old Age Contributory Pension; Retirement
Pension; Invalidity Pension and the Widowed Person's Contributory
Pensions. They allow periods of insurance and or residence
which were completed in one country to be taken into account
by the other country so that the worker may qualify for
a pension. It is even possible for some people to qualify
for payments from both countries at the same time.
The good news is that if you do qualify for a payment under
any of these Social Security schemes, you may also
qualify for the following free benefits in Ireland from
the Irish Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs
when the pensioner reaches age 66:
Free electricity allowance (1500 units per year) or you
can opt for an equivalent Natural Gas Allowance or a Bottled
Gas Refill allowance
Free Television licence, worth £70 per year
Telephone Rental Allowance (£120 per year)
Free Travel (Open to everyone resident in Ireland...see
these you must be residing permanently in Ireland and
fulfil the conditions. For further information and to
see if you would qualify write to: International Operations
Section, Department of Social, Community & Family Affairs,
Floor 1, O'Connell Bridge House, D'Olier Street, Dublin
1, Telephone: 353 1 874 8444
travel: Everyone residing in Ireland is entitled to
Free Travel within the state if they are over the age of
66. It entitles you to travel, without charge, on all the
trains and buses of the state transport companies; some
private bus operators are also involved in the scheme. There
are some restrictions. You must use the commuter buses and
trains outside rush hour times and during specific
hours. One downside: if you live in a remote area there
may be no bus/train available to you. Application forms
are available from post offices or local Social Welfare
Services offices. One other benefit of the Free Travel Pass
is that you can use it for reduced entry charges to race
meetings, cinemas and theatres on specified occasions. Always
WITH THE ALIENS OFFICE
If you are a citizen of Ireland you do not have to register.
If you were able to obtain Irish Citizenship because either
you, one of your parents, or one of your grandparents was
born on the island of Ireland before 1921, or in the Republic
of Ireland if born after 1921, (great-grandparents no longer
count since the law was changed in 1984), but your spouse
does not qualify, then it will take your spouse some years,
currently four years, before he or she can apply to become
you are not an Irish citizen then you must register during
office hours with the Aliens Office, Harcourt Square, Dublin
2, if you are living in Dublin. If you are living outside
Dublin you must register with the local Garda Station. You
must register after three months to seek permission to stay
longer, then on a yearly basis.
I hire a car in Ireland? Yes, if you are under 75 years
of age. If you are older you will not be able to buy car
insurance and will be unable to drive legally. Remember
to bring an International Driving licence with you.
I bring my dog or other pet with me? Yes but it will
be subject to six months quarantine at your expense (see
snippets in this issue). There are no exceptions and
if you arrive without the necessary arrangements made, you
will be sent back at your own expense. Recently a lady made
arrangements to set up a private quarantine kennel near
her own home for her dog, but it was costly. You must contact
the Department of Agriculture, Kildare Street, Dublin 2
before you come to find out the necessary requirements
and obtain a licence to bring the animal into the country.
The reason for the strictness on pets is that Ireland and
the United Kingdom are free of rabies. The U.K. has introduced
a Pet Passport scheme, but the Department of Agriculture
(which deals with these matters here) says that it does
not intend to introduce this in Ireland.
I get free medical attention in Ireland? The short answer
is yes. Emergency treatment is free in all hospitals; however,
non emergency treatment could mean a very long wait, sometimes
months. Private medical insurance is a virtual necessity.
If you have medical insurance now, check if you can transfer
it to one of the health care insurers in Ireland (VHI or
BUPA). VHI (the Voluntary Health Insurance board - a semi-state
company) will continue to give you medical cover after the
age of 65 (there is no upper age limit for EXISTING subscribers),
but will not take on NEW members if they are aged 65
or over. BUPA International - the other main medical
insurer operating in Ireland - has similar conditions. There
is a new Medical Health Insurance Bill in preparation which
will legislate for the over 65s, but it is likely that the
premiums they will pay will be at a higher rate.
you pay for all visits to your doctor, and for all prescribed
drugs. But if your total income is less than £140
per week in Ireland, and you are residing permanently here,
you may qualify for a medical card which will entitle you
to free medical treatment in Ireland. This means you would
not have to pay for any prescribed drug, visit to a doctor
on the medical card panel, or a consultant's public hospital
clinic. Contact the Health Board in your area to learn the
current earnings limits and for an application form. If
you come to Ireland from another European Union (EU) country,
and have a Social Security pension from that country, you
will receive a medical card as of right.
of Taxes, Attn: Forms and Leaflets, 9 - 15 Upper O,Connell
Street Dublin 1.
Health Insurance Board, Lower Abbey Street Dublin 1.
Ireland, Mill Island Fermoy, Co. Cork.
of Health (for addresses of various health boards around
the country) Hawkins House Dublin 2.
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